DOUGLASVILLE — Loganville looked to be riding high during this high school football season until they played Gainesville.
That late-season loss not only forced the Red Devils to play on the road in the first round of the playoffs, it also provided future opponents with a map of the Loganville team's weaknesses.
South Paulding High School must have been taking notes as the Spartans looked commanding as they topped the Red Devils 34-16 to end the Loganville playoff run almost before it began.
The game looked relatively even at first. The two teams traded punts in their opening drives but the Spartans took advantage of a short Red Devil punt to strike deep into Loganville territory on the next possession.
With the help of a late hit penalty, the Spartans scored on a one-yard quarterback keeper by Chase Wilkerson for an early lead. The point after was good for a 7-0 Spartans lead.
The Spartans looked to score again, reaching the Loganville 23 on a pass interference call before Wilkerson was intercepted by Richard Fraser.
The two teams traded a series of punts after that, as South Paulding continued to commit penalties that killed drives while Loganville struggled to move the ball against the Spartan defense.
Midway through the second quarter, the Spartans scored again on a 14-yard run by Kameron Watts. The kick was good for a 14-0 lead.
The Red Devils returned the ensuing kickoff to the South Paulding 40-yard line, however, and looked to punch it in.
After reaching the red zone, however, the momentum evaporated, starting with a play blown dead for a loss after quarterback Cameron Perkins lost a shoe on a scramble.
The Red Devils settled for a 31-yard field goal by Josh Moore to narrow the score to 14-3.
The Spartans answered on the following drive with a 29-yard field goal of their own.
With less than 40 seconds, Loganville drove into Spartan territory but missed a 49-yard field goal, which fell short as time expired to leave the score 17-3.
Loganville received the ball to start the second half but threw an interception on the third play of the opening drive to Jake Yetter.
The Spartans took the short field and turned it into a 28-yard field goal for a 20-3 score.
On the next drive, though, the Red Devils converted two fourth downs, including a fake punt, to finally score on a 33-yard pass to Rhett Mixon. The kick was good to make the score 20-10.
Any hopes of a comeback were short-lived, as it took the Spartans only five plays to score on a 55-yard run by Watts. The point after extended the lead to 27-10.
The Red Devils then began a nearly six-minute drive that reached the South Paulding 10, but sputtered out with a sack and a 34-yard field goal attempt which bounced off the left upright.
Two plays later, the Spartans finally buried the Loganville playoff chances with an 84-yard touchdown run by Watts. The point after was good for a 34-10 score.
Loganville would score one final time on a 4-yard touchdown run by Perkins, but the two-point conversion failed for a 34-16 score.
An onside kick failed and the Spartans ran out the clock to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
Loganville coach Mike Humphreys was disappointed with the loss, but said it would serve as a learning experience for next season.
“It’s not how we wanted to play,” he said. “It won’t define our season.”